Infant Educators

Lida Barthol

Lida began working at SEEC in 2018, starting as a support teacher before moving into the Cottontail Room. She brings years of experience working with infants and toddlers, as well as training in the RIE philosophy of infant care, which emphasizes how everyday caregiving routines (such as diaper changes or mealtimes) can be used to build a trusting relationship with each child. Lida is passionate about supporting and encouraging families, providing an emotionally nurturing environment for young children, and finding the joy in every day.

Brandi Gordon

Having a B.A in Criminal justice and minor in sociology from Mount st Mary’s university, Brandi is working towards her Associates degree in Early childhood education. With over 7 years’ experience with infants and toddlers, Brandi enjoys seeing the growth from a young infant to an independent toddler. She brings a safe and nourishing environment into the classroom to encourage the children to explore.

Jill Manasco

Jill has been with SEEC since December of 2007. She has taught infants as well as toddlers during this time. She has a B.S. in Business Management/Accounting from DeVry University. Jill loves bringing the outside environment into the classroom by exploring dirt, plants etc. with our youngest children.

Morgan Parr

Morgan has a BA in Arts and Visual Technology and an MA in Early Childhood Education Leadership. Morgan believes that you are always learning, no matter how old you are, and enjoys continuously learning new things with and from her students and her son.

Julia Plant

Julia holds a B.A. in French and an M.A.T. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, both from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She has worked with children from infancy through elementary school in a variety of settings including schools and summer camp. Since joining SEEC in the Fall of 2017, Julia has furthered her passion for creating a safe environment for young children to thrive and learn, using both the school and wider community as resources.

Amanda Rhine

Amanda joined SEEC in 2019 as a Support Educator before transitioning to a Duckling Teacher. Amanda has a MA in Museum Studies where she specialized in visitor engagement and education. As a former museum educator, Amanda believes even youngest minds can understand complex topics — it’s just about giving them the right set of tools to do so. This belief inspires her to encourage students daily to explore their interests in the world around them through museum content.

Toddler Educators

Erica Collins

Erica was born and raised in Florida, and moved here to Maryland from Chicago. She is a Florida State Alumni, Go Noles! She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Family and Child Sciences with a focus on child development of typical and atypical children, as well as public policy. Erica loves hiking with her dog, reading, and spending time with friends. She enjoys being a part of the SEEC family and loves working with the SEEC families and children!

Shannon Conley

Shannon has been working at SEEC as a Toucan teacher since the Fall of 2018. She cares deeply about the importance of cultivating empathy in young children and holds a B.A. in Anthropology from George Mason University. Shannon is passionate about creating a safe environment for toddlers to develop their autonomy, curiosity, and compassion for others.

Stephanie Lopez

Stephanie has been at SEEC since 2015. She has worked in the two’s room and toddlers’ room. She went to college at Montgomery College for Early Childhood Education and took classes at Phoenix University. She enjoys witnessing children learn something new, knowing she was a main influence in their doing so and the impact she makes in their lives makes for an even bigger and completely gratifying impact in her life. She looks forward to continuing to have a positive impact on the children’s growth and to new discoveries.

Abby Marden

Abby began at SEEC during the Summer of 2019 as an educator for Kindergarten camp before moving into the Dragonfly room later that Fall. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and Early Childhood Education with a minor in Art History from Tulane University and has experience working with toddler age children up to 1st grade. Abby strives to encourage a love of learning and exploration by incorporating lessons that have a strong social-emotional component as well as foster a sense of agency.

Kat Schoonover

Kat started as the library volunteer at SEEC in 2016, working with the Office of Engagement team to support the teachers and manage the school’s collection of books, prints and objects. After weekly donating her time to SEEC, she came to love the school and aspired to work here full time. She started teaching in 2017 and has worked as an infants and toddlers teacher as well as a member of the support staff. Kat loves supporting the curiosity and development of the youngest learners through playing and forming close relationships.

Julia Smith

Julia began at SEEC in 2016 as a support educator gaining experience will all age groups before becoming a Dragonfly teacher. She transitioned to the role of Dragonfly lead teacher in fall 2019. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Amherst College and her passion for education has led her to teaching experiences with a variety of ages from infants though Middle schoolers. Julia is inspired everyday by the capabilities of even the youngest children to be engaged and empathetic learners.

Twos Educators

Brittany Brown

Brittany has always loved working with children and is excited to to be a part of the SEEC team! She has worked with children in several venues, including Young Playwrights’ Theater, Round House Summer Theater Education Program, and The National Children’s Museum. She completed her AA in Theater Education from Bowie State University in 2017. She enjoys working with the children and loves to create interesting and innovated lessons using the Smithsonian resources all around her!

Brittany Leavitt

Brittany received her Early childhood education certification at Wor-wic Community College. Brittany has volunteered with many organizations including: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay, and currently working with the Outdoor Afro leadership Program. As an adventure-seeking soul, Brittany likes to spend some of her spare time rock climbing, playing Roller Derby, practicing yoga, taking photos, and gardening. Brittany believes the Smithsonian is a wonderful alternative way of learning and is excited to be part of the team!

Noel Ulmer

Noel was born and raised in Washington, DC and is excited to be a part of SEEC. Originally an English major at Trinity Washington University, she discovered what she believes is her true calling while working as a Nursery Attendant for the Kidz Klub at Sport & Health. There, she learned that teaching and interacting with children of all ages is where her talent lies. She is happy that parents recognized her genuine love for children as a Nursery Attendant, as well as an Assistant Teacher at The Geneva Ivey Day School. She looks forward to continuing her education in the early childhood education field. She feels honored to be cultivating and nurturing the minds of SEEC’s youngest children!

Shawna Williams

Shawna is originally from Trinidad and has worked at SEEC since 2004. During her time at SEEC Shawna has worked with the infants, toddlers, and two year olds. She earned an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice and has also completed her CDA (Child Development Associate) Credential. Shawna enjoys connecting with the children and their families, and forming bonds that last from year to year!

Preschool Educators

Lauren Bundy

Having an art history degree and three years of experience teaching young children, Lauren is truly one happy camper here at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center. Her love of art and passion for education merge together each day that she comes into the classroom. Getting the chance to watch young children grow and learn is an awesome experience and truly one of her favorite things. You only get to watch them grow up once!  As the saying goes, “The work can always wait, but the rainbow only lasts for a moment.”  Lauren is from a farm and horse ranch in North Carolina. She is very family oriented and has a love for art and education. She received her bachelors of Art History at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and has her CDA.

Sarah Huffman

Sarah Huffman holds a B.A. in Human Development and Family Life Sciences with a concentration in Early Childhood Education from Samford University.  She has experience teaching toddlers through elementary-aged children, as well as children with disabilities.  Sarah joined SEEC in 2019 and has continued to ensure that her students feel comfortable and valued while also creating a fun and exciting learning atmosphere.

Krystiana Kaminski

Krystiana grew up overseas, mostly in Taiwan, and moved to Washington D.C. in 2005. She taught preschool and kindergarten in Taiwan for a few years and then worked at E.L. Haynes PCS for seven years in pre-k and preschool classrooms. She earned a B.A. in Human Development with a focus on Early Childhood Education from the University of the District of Columbia and plans to continue her education in related fields.

Amy Schoolcraft

Amy is originally from West Virginia and now resides in Burke, VA.  She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education and a M.ED. in early childhood. Amy has been a teacher at SEEC since 2006. Amy loves being a teacher at SEEC and working with little ones. She enjoys nature, science, and community service, and tries to share that love with each of her students.  In her spare time she enjoy movies and the occasional hike.

Kindergarten Educators

Cathryn Prudencio

Cathryn Kis grew up in Medina, Ohio and moved to the area in 2008. She earned a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Early Childhood Education from Wittenberg University. She has experience teaching in various schools both in the States and Vienna, Austria. Outside her love of working with children of all ages, Cathryn is interested in travel, reading, storytelling, the great outdoors, exploring museums and new cultures and people.

Gina Safadi

Gina, originally from New York, holds a B.A. degree from Marymount Manhattan College. She joined SEEC in 2020 as our Kindergarten Spanish Teacher. She is inspired by children’s energy and curiosity and has been teaching for over 15 years, first in Ecuador and now in DC.

Enrichment Educators

Dr. David Adamski

Dr. David Adamski has been associated with SEEC since 1990 when his son Jon enrolled as a Bear. Subsequently, He taught informal science classes with the Bears before he began teaching science in the Kindergarten. Dr. Adamski has been an entomologist with the Systematic Entomology Laboratory, USDA, at the Smithsonian and Beltsville, MD for 25 years. He researches night-flying moths, so you won’t see him in the summer months unless you’re in the middle of a forest during the “witching hour.”

Allison Brake

Allison started teaching at SEEC in 1988! In that time she has filled a variety of roles including as Lead Teacher, Asst. Director, Resource Teacher and currently, Music Teacher. Allison has a BFA in Theater from University of Texas at Arlington.  Allison has been married to her husband Paul for 30 years and they have beautiful twin daughters named Alex and Blair, who are SEEC alumni.

Carolyn Eby

Carolyn was born and raised in Washington D.C.  She studied Education at Pratt Institute for two years, then completed her degree at Virginia Commonwealth University with a minor in Craft Material Studies.  Carolyn has worked with the Corcoran Gallery youth education programs and Glenn Echo fine arts.  She is currently the Art Educator for SEEC.

Support Educators

Dana Brightful

Dana grew up in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area. She spent some time at Morgan State University studying Civil Engineering when she realized her true passion was teaching young children. Since that time she has been taking classes in Early Childhood Education to enhance and sharpen her skills. Dana has worked with young children for over a decade. She began working at SEEC in 2005 when she started working with the toddlers. When she not working with the children at SEEC Dana enjoys spending time with her family which consists of her two sons, James III and Alexander, and her loving husband, James.

Chris Conroy Smith

Chris was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. Her undergraduate degree is in Elementary Education and Special Education. Her graduate degree is in Reading. While still in Philadelphia Chris was a Math teacher at an alternative High School, and a teacher/therapist at a mental health center. She then spent ten years overseas, volunteering in orphanages, health centers and local schools in Nepal and Jamaica, and as the kindergarten teacher at the International School of Tunis, Tunisia, while raising her own children. Upon moving to Washington she then returned to working with older children at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington. Chris is so thrilled to be working at SEEC. This program fits her personal philosophy of how best to educate children; interactive, child-centered, language-based, investigative, collaborative, with learning projects emerging from the children and where they are. It’s thrilling to think of the possibilities.

Maya Alston

Maya moved to the DC area in May of 2015. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and hopes to soon start in a Master’s program.  While working towards her degree she spent her free time volunteering at the Children’s Museum of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. She takes a strong interest in social and emotional development in early childhood and enjoys getting the chance to interact with children in meaningful and engaging ways. Prior to joining SEEC she worked as a preschool teacher at the Children’s Creative Learning Center and is super excited to be a part of the SEEC team!

Laura Muniz

Laura Muñiz grew up in San Juan Puerto Rico and moved to the Washington DC in 2007. She had been working with children as a substitute teacher in Arlington, and has been with SEEC since 2013. She holds a BA in Marketing Communications from Emerson College and is studying Early Childhood Education. Laura’s favorite activity in the classroom is music and movement and love.

Shawna Williams

Shawna has been at SEEC since 2004, and has experience teaching infants through twos. She holds an AA in Criminal Justice from the University of Phoenix and a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. Shawna loves brining fun and exciting lessons to the classroom which promotes exploration and creativity in young children.

Office of Engagement

Meredith Osborne, Infant and Toddler Specialist

Meredith Osborne is originally from Cleveland Heights, Ohio. She has spent the last two years in the Washington, D.C. area. Meredith came to D.C. to study Museum Education at the George Washington University and since graduating has worked at PGiP – Playgroup in the Park. Prior to that she worked at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland and worked in Jewish Community Center of South Tampa Preschool.

Brooke Shoemaker, Professional Development Specialist

Brooke Shoemaker has been working with children for the past eight years and is very happy to be at SEEC.  She holds a BA in theatre performance from the University of Maryland with a minor in human development.  In the past Brooke has taught drama and art to students aged two through eighteen in Washington D.C., Maryland and Connecticut.  She is currently pursuing a MEd in early childhood education from Towson University.  Brooke loves bringing the arts into the classroom specifically through music and storytelling.

Family Programs Faculty

Brianne Peck-Bertuca

Brianne Peck Bertuca was thrilled to return to SEEC last year as a Family Workshop Facilitator after taking few years off to stay home with her children. She began at SEEC in 2010 working as a volunteer, preschool assistant teacher and museum educator. Brianne has also held positions in public programs and museum education for the Chicago History Museum and The Paul Revere House. She has worked with people of all ages from infants to adults. She holds a M.A. in History and Museum Studies from Tufts University.

Domonique Williams

Domonique is an educator committed to equity and accessibility in museums and classrooms. She received her B.A. in History from Tuskegee University and a M.S. in Museum and Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education. She has taught in public and private schools and has worked at a variety of cultural institutions including The National Gallery of Art, The Brooklyn Historical Society, The Smithsonian National Postal Museum, The Bronx Zoo, and The National Museum of African American History and Culture.  

Administrative Team

Katie Heimsath, Director of Preschool Programs

Since joining SEEC in 2015, Katie has found a passion for using the community, including the natural world, to foster curiosity and agency in young learners. Katie holds a B.A. in Anthropology at Texas State University and an A.S. in Early Childhood Education from Ashworth College. Katie has experience teaching young infants through kindergarten age children. She is committed to supporting the SEEC educators and caregivers in their journey to help cultivate empathy, responsibility, and respect for ourselves and the rest of the global community.

Meredith McMahon, Executive Director

Meredith McMahon has been working in the early education field for 20 years and has worked as both a classroom teacher and a program director. She earned her BA in history from the University of Pennsylvania and her MA in early childhood education from the University of Phoenix. Meredith has been a part of SEEC since 2004 and has been Deputy Director of Operations since 2008. She grew up in Scranton, PA, lived and worked in Philadelphia, PA for 11 years and moved to DC in 2002. Meredith is a dedicated Phillies fan who’s also a runner, avid reader and collector of toys that can be found throughout her office. She lives in the District with her husband, Jeff, and their 2 crazy cats.

Melody Passemante PowellDirector of Infant & Toddler Programs

Melody is a Northern Virginia Native, originally from Herndon, Virginia. She earned her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from James Madison University and completed a MEd in Education Management in December 2013. Melody has worked extensively with children ranging from ages 6 weeks to 12 years in a variety of settings. Prior to joining SEEC in December of 2010 she worked as the Program Director at a Reggio Emilia Inspired cooperative in Arlington Virginia. She also taught literacy to children ages 3-5 in Philadelphia for a year and worked as an educator at the Summer Program at St. Johns Preschool in Georgetown. Melody lives in Lorton, Virginia with her wife Alicia, and their daughter. Melody’s interests include reading, spending time with her family, and of course, working with young children, educators, and families!

Rudi Roberson, Administrative Assistant

Rudi has been working at SEEC since 2018. She has also worked in a variety of early childhood education settings for many years. Rudi studied Child Development in high school, Elementary Education at McDaniel College, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Adolescent Studies from Bowie State University. She has been an Educator, Administrator, and a Center Director. Her father is an artist, so she grew up surrounded with creativity and innovation. Rudi loves being in the classroom with children and seeing their smiling faces as they explore the environment; connecting with peers and teachers. She has always believed in the philosophy that children learn through their play, in which she thinks is so important to help spark their creativity and imagination.

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